Transformation in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

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Transformation in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

Since Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was based on Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, it is possible to draw many parallels between the two works. Both can be interpreted as metaphors for a journey through the inner self, and each has its own particular message to convey. In many ways they also appear to have similarities to Arthurian Legend, in particular the quest for the holy grail, and other allegorical journey narratives. The sum of the experiences of the protagonists, Marlow in Heart of Darkness and Willard in Apocalypse Now, reveal to them how the horrors and effects of war or conquest, can lead some people to madness, while other persons may discover the light and find absolute truth.

Traveling on a river is often used as a symbol for a journey of self-discovery in numerous literary works. For example, in works such as Dante's Inferno and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, the protagonists journey down the River Styx, and the Mississippi, respectively; encounter many challenges which provide them with opportunities to reach an understanding of themselves. In Heart of Darkness Marlow accepts his quest to journey up the long and dangerous Congo River to transport ivory from Kurtz's Inner Station back to the Outer Station. In Apocalypse Now Benjamin Willard who began as a special military recruit is sent on a mission up the Nung River to "exterminate with extreme prejudice, (Apocalypse Now)" Kurtz. In each work the protagonists witness and endure unspeakable hostilities along their journeys and in order to survive and accomplish their ultimate goals, both push themselves beyond their physical, spiritual, and mental limits to the point o...

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...ard takes the role of a father and leads a young military away from the jungle, and Marlow returns to the pristine waters of the ocean.

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Apocalypse Now. New York: Norton and Company, Inc. ,1988.

Heart of Darkness. Dir. Francis Ford Coppola. with Marlon Brandon, Robert Duvall, and Martin Sheen. Paramount, 2000.

Topic: Heart of Darkness vs Apocalypse Now. (19 May 2002).

Baxter, Gisèle. "Notes on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness." The G.M. Baxter Page. 28 October, 1999. (20 May 2002).

Krall, Aaron, Aimee Lanoue, and Matthew Pavesich. What is the Heart of Darkness? (19 May 2002).

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